Barcelona based festival Be Prog! My Friend announce Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress / Will join Jethro Tull, Marillion, Anathema & more

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30th June – 1nd JULY 2017 – BARCELONA

THE FESTIVAL WHICH HIGHLIGHTS THE WORLD’S BEST PROGRESSIVE BANDS ADD MIKE PORTNOY’S SHATTERED FORTRESS TO THE LINE UP

Since its inception in 2014 the Barcelona based festival Be Prog! My Friend has played host to the likes of Opeth, Steven Wilson, Anathema, Devin Townsend, TesseracT, The Pineapple Thief, Magma, Agent Fresco, Camel, Meshuggah, Katatonia, Riverside, Ihsahn and Alcest.

Taking place in the beautiful open air surroundings of Poble Espanyol – a huge stone built architectural museum – the site is one of the most important and striking landmarks of tourism in Barcelona. Whilst by day the Catalonian hotspot may play host to some of Barcelona’s most interesting historical articles, by the end of June to the start of July it will instead play host to some of the world’s finest progressive bands.

This year saw the festival co-headlined by Steven Wilson and fellow progressive heavy weights Opeth. So far for 2017 Be Prog! My Friend have announced the legendary Jethro Tull as Saturday’s headliner alongside Norwegian music collective Ulver, Anathema, Animals as Leaders and Caligula’s Horse. While Marillion will headline the Friday.

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Now Be Prog! My Friend have announced that Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress will join the bill. Mike Portnoy comments:

‘I am so excited to be bringing my Shattered Fortress show to Spain and Be Prog My Friend! The Shattered Fortress is myself and an all-star Prog lineup performing Dream Theater’s 12 Step Suite live in it’s entirety for the first time!

This is not “a new band or project” for me, it is an exclusive event that will be making several select live appearances in select markets throughout the world in 2017…and Be Prog My Friend is one of the selected shows!

The setlist at the show will be comprised of the 12 Step Suite and select other Dream Theater songs that I’ve written the lyrics to. 

Keep in mind, I have no plans (or interest) in revisiting DT material in any of my other bands…this is not an ongoing “project” or career move…this is merely a unique event that I am doing in select markets in 2017 to share with fans around the world…so catch it while you can!!’

Tickets are on sale now at the fixed price of 130 Euros:

http://www.ticktackticket.com/entradas/goto.do?claves=.127248&origin=TTT&codIdioma=ING

Press for Be Prog! My Friend festival 2016:

‘And so Prog finds itself in love with Barcelona, the delightful weather and everything that Be Prog! My Friend has to offer’ – Prog Magazine

‘The leading festival for progressive music in Spain, showcased avant-garde music in a magnificent location’ – The Independent

‘Set in the hazy sunlit square of Barcelona’s historic and quite stunning Poble Espanyol, it certainly beats the sodden mud of the British festival season’ – Total Guitar Magazine

‘If nothing else, it proves that prog is alive and kicking. Especially in Catalonia’ – Classic Rock Magazine

http://www.beprogmyfriend.com/

facebook.com/beprogmyfriend

Be Prog! My Friend takes place in the heart of Barcelona and with an airport only 12km away, regular, cheap flights make it an easy festival to get and from the UK. Bands will start playing from mid/late afternoon each day which will also mean visitors have plenty of time to explore the stunning city of Barcelona while they are there.

http://www.barcelonaturisme.com

 

THE NEAL MORSE BAND ‘THE SIMILITUDE OF A DREAM’ THE NEW ALBUM & TOUR DETAILS

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RELEASED NOVEMBER 11 ON RADIANT RECORDS
VIA METAL BLADE RECORDS/SONY

2CD, TRIPLE VINYL AND DIGITAL DOWNLOAD

WORLDWIDE TOUR STARTS

JANUARY 15, 2017 IN NASHVILLE, TN

 NEAL MORSE: LEAD VOCALS, KEYBOARDS, GUITARS

MIKE PORTNOY: DRUMS, VOCALS

RANDY GEORGE: BASS

ERIC GILLETTE: GUITAR, VOCALS

BILL HUBAUER: KEYBOARDS, VOCALS

The journey of Neal Morse has seen three decades of musical accomplishments, the latest being the inception of The Neal Morse Band. Morse has forged many relationships over the years with his other bands, Spock’s Beard, Flying Colors, and Transatlantic. However, the most compelling and fruitful efforts have been those with drummer Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs, Flying Colors, Transatlantic, ex-Dream Theater).

Now the current line-up of “The Neal Morse Band”Morse, Portnoy, bassist Randy George, keyboardist Bill Hubauer and guitarist Eric Gillette—brings forth “The Similitude of a Dream”, a concept album to be released November 11 on Radiant Records via Metal Blade Records/SONY. This will be the eighth studio album with Morse, Portnoy and George, and the second as a true collaboration with this current lineup. A lyric video for the song, “Overture,” premiered on PROG Magazine’s website earlier today and will be available on the band’s official YouTube page tomorrow. Watch the lyric video for the songs “Long Day” and “Overture”

Clocking in at over 100 minutes, this amazing piece of prog storytelling will leave you breathless, exhilarated, amused and fulfilled in a way that only inspired music can. It will be available in various formats: a two CD package, a Special Edition with the two CDs and “The Making of a Dream” DVD, or as three vinyl records along with two CDs.

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The Neal Morse Band (L-R): Eric Gillette, Mike Portnoy, Randy George, Neal Morse, Bill Hubauer. Photo: John Zocco

Track Listing:

 Disc 1:

  1. Long Day
  2. Overture
  3. The Dream
  4. City Of Destruction
  5. We Have Got To Go
  6. Makes No Sense
  7. Draw The Line
  8. The Slough
  9. Back To The City
  10. The Ways Of A Fool
  11. So Far Gone
  12. Breath Of Angels

 Disc 2:

  1. Slave To Your Mind
  2. Shortcut to Salvation
  3. The Man in The Iron Cage
  4. The Road Called Home
  5. Sloth
  6. Freedom Song
  7. I’m Running
  8. The Mask
  9. Confrontation
  10. The Battle
  11. Broken Sky / Long Day (Reprise)

Together, Morse and Portnoy have launched four bands, but the one that has endured the longest and thus with the most musical output has been The Neal Morse Band. Over the years, Morse, along with Portnoy and George, always assembled musicians as needed to support Neal’s solo music. In 2012, they held auditions to find the musicians needed to fill out the band as a permanent lineup that would write music collectively. Hubauer and Gillette joined the band after three days of auditions. The fivesome went on to release The Grand Experiment in 2014 followed by the Alive Again live DVD/2 CD package in 2015.

The Similitude of a Dream is loosely and sometimes directly based on the book, Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan,” explains Neal Morse. “The book’s original title was The Pilgrim’s Progress from this world to that which is to come, delivered under the similitude of a dream, and was originally published in 1678. The book chronicles the spiritual journey of a man from the City of Destruction to a place of Deliverance. Someone had suggested to me that I do a concept album based on this book, but I kind of forgot about it. Then when I began writing new songs last December, the suggestion came to my mind. I had never read the book, so I Googled the SparkNotes story outline and began to write some little song bits and instrumentals based on what I had read. Those bits combined with the ideas that the other guys brought to the table then miraculously exploded into this double concept album. Funny thing is, this album only really covers about the first 75 or 80 pages. Maybe we should’ve made a five disc collection! Well, we’ll save that for later. Ha.”

Continues Neal, “At the conclusion of the grueling recording sessions, I remember Mike saying rather prophetically, ‘Boys, I think we just made the album of our careers.’”

“I honestly think this is THE album of my career,” declares Portnoy. “Neal and I have now made 18 studio albums together, and I consider The Similitude of a Dream the absolute creative pinnacle of our collaborations together. I’ve always had a soft spot for double concept albums such as Pink Floyd’s The Wall and The Who’s Tommy, and I can bravely say that I think we’ve created an album here that can sit side by side with those masterpieces. Bold words, I know, but after a career of almost 50 albums, I honestly consider this to be one of the defining works of my career.”

“We weren’t sure we had enough music to make a double CD, and yet it seemed as though the concept and the music wanted to go there,” bassist Randy George continues. “Ultimately, we created so much great music in the sessions that it just had to be a double album! To cap that off, we worked with a pre-imminent classic album cover artist to create painted illustrations of our concept which will grace the booklet!”

The Neal Morse Band tours worldwide almost yearly and continues to grow in popularity, attracting new listeners everywhere they go. The band has toured in North America, Central America, Europe, Israel, Mexico and India. The shows are filled with excited and extremely loyal fans, some which have regularly traveled very long distances to see the band. The band has an extensive catalog of live shows on Blu-Ray and DVD as well.

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Their latest round of worldwide tour dates start January 15, 2017 in Morse’s current hometown of Nashville, TN. More dates will be announced in the coming weeks on the band’s official website.

North American Dates

 Jan 15 Nashville, TN – Venue TBA

Jan 17 Seattle, WA – Triple Door

Jan 18 San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom

Jan 21 Whittier, CA – Center Theater

Jan 22 Phoenix, AZ – Nesbitt-Elliott Playhouse Theater

Jan 24 Denver, CO – Oriental Theater

Jan 25 Dallas, TX – Curtain Club

Jan 27 St Charles, IL – Arcada Theater

Jan 28 Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom

Jan 29 Toronto, ONT – Mod Room

Jan 31 Montreal, QUE – Club Soda

Feb 01 Quebec City, QUE – Salle Jean Paul Tardif

Feb 02 New York, NY – Highline Ballroom

Feb 03 Washington DC – State Theater

Feb 07 – 11 Cruise To the Edge

European Dates

March 22 Barcelona, Spain – Apolo

March 23 Milan, Italy – Venue TBA

March 24 Pratteln, Switzerland – Z7

March 25 Aschaffenburg, Germany – Colo-Saal

March 26 Berlin, Germany – Lido

March 28 Warsaw, Poland – Progresja Music Zone

March 29 Hamburg, Germany – Markthalle

March 30 Verviers, Belgium – Spirit of 66

March 31 Cologne, Germany – Stollwerck

April 01 Malmo, Sweden – KB

April 02 Tilburg, Holland – O13

April 04 Luxembourg – Rockhal

April 05 Paris, France – Divan Du Monde

April 06 Birmingham, England – O2 Academy 2

April 07 Glasgow, Scotland – O2 ABC

April 08 Manchester, England – O2 Ritz

April 09 London, England – O2 Islington Academy

 Additional

April 12 Tel Aviv, Israel – Havana Club

May 6th Gettysburg PA – RosFest

And more to be added…

 

 Internet and Social Media

www.nealmorseband.com/

www.facebook.com/nealmorse

www.twitter.com/nealmorse

www.instagram.com/NealMorse

www.youtube.com/NealMorseMusic

PAIN – NEW LYRIC VIDEO FOR “DESIGNED TO PISS YOU OFF” RELEASED

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The Swedish metal force PAIN, led by multi-instrumentalist and producer Peter Tägtgren (HYPOCRISY, LINDEMANN), will return to the road with their Coming Home Tour 2016 this week. The band will join forces with THE VISION BLEAK, DYNAZTY and BILLION DOLLAR BABIES.

Today, the band released the brand new lyric video for the song “Designed To Piss You Off“.

“Coming Home Tour 2016”
PAIN
THE VISION BLEAK
DYNAZTY
BILLION DOLLAR BABIES.
13.10.  D         Berlin – Astra
14.10.  D         Wuerzburg – Posthalle
15.10.  D         Leipzig – Hellraiser
16.10.  CZ        Prague – Meet Factory
17.10.  A          Vienna – Szene
19.10.  D         Ludwigsburg – Rockfabrik
20.10.  D         Munich – Backstage
21.10.  CH       Lausanne – Les Docks
22.10.  D         Lindau – Vaudeville
23.10.  D         Essen – Turock
24.10.  UK      London – Underworld
25.10.  UK      Wolverhampton – Salde Rooms
26.10.  UK      Bristol – The Fleece
27.10.  F          Paris – Petit Bain
28.10.  E          Barcelona – Razzmatazz 2
29.10.  E          Madrid – Changó
30.10.  P          Lisbon – RCA Club
01.11.  E          Bilbao – Stage Live
02.11.  F          Marseille – Jas Rod
03.11.  F          Lyon – Ninkasi Kao
04.11.  F          Nancy – Nancy On Rock Festival*
05.11.  D         Markneukirchen – Music Hall
07.11.  NL        Tilburg – 013
08.11.  B          Antwerp – Trix
09.11.  D         Hamburg – Klubsen
10.11.  DK       Aalborg – Aalborg Metal Fest
11.11.  S          Gothenburg – Brewhouse
12.11.  S          Stockholm – Debaser

17.11.  FIN       Kuopio – Henry’s*
18.11.  FIN       Oulu – Hevimesta*
19.11.  FIN       Helsinki – Nosturi*
24.11.  FIN       Tampere – Klubi*
25.11.  FIN       Jyväskylä – Lutakko*
26.11.  FIN       Seinäjoki*
*without support

Order ‘Coming Home’ below:
Limited Edition Gatefold Orange Vinyl from the Nuclear Blast UK store:http://nblast.de/PAINComingHomeNBUK
Limited Edition 2 CD Digibook / CD / Vinyl via Amazon.co.uk: http://nblast.de/PAINComingHomeAmz
And digital album: http://nblast.de/PainDownloads

More on ‘Coming Home’:
“Call Me” (feat. Joakim Brodèn of Sabaton) official video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ml4iBTfoplY&feature=youtu.be
‘Black Knight Satellite’ lyric video: https://youtu.be/UBRMKyuwS54
Track-By-Track Part 1: https://youtu.be/awXfEcUm2SY
Track-By-Track Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P68y-RpYtls
Track-By-Track Part 3: https://youtu.be/l_t0pM92WT0
Album Trailer 1#: https://youtu.be/FnT0i5bjMw8
Album Trailer 2#: https://youtu.be/_pkOCSEbuWE
Album Trailer 3#: https://youtu.be/0QWJJBGlki8
Peter recently sat down to discuss his introduction to music – including the first record he picked up, how he switched from drums to guitar, plus his discovery, and the profound impact of the late and great David Bowie. Video here: https://youtu.be/614Kof_kqjk

More info:
www.painworldwide.com
www.facebook.com/officialpain
www.nuclearblast.de/pain

Pain - Coming Home

 

Review – Nerve Toy Trio – Accidental Bar-B-Que – by Progradar

Nerve Toy Trio Cover

I have often said in the past that I am a sucker for great album cover. Top quality album art can draw you in and make you want to find out what the music is all about. Occasionally it can be a false dawn and the music does not stand up to the stature of the art used to portray it but, thankfully, most of the time it is an accurate facsimile.

When Tony Harn, guitarist with the Prog/Jazz Experimental group Nerve Toy Trio, first showed the artwork for their first full-length album ‘Accidental Bar-B-Que’ on social media I was immediately hooked and Tony soon sent me a copy of the release to have a listen to and review.

Bass player David Jones and drummer Howard Jones are the other two parts of this melodic fusion trio and between them they have created quite a work of art…

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‘Accidental Bar-B-Que’ is 55 minutes of rather stylish music. Jazz tinged but with progressive music as its core, it is really infectious and intelligent music with a huge amount of joie de vivre running throughout.

The six tracks have, shall we say, interesting titles that also put a big grin on your face starting with opener Frozen Veg Alarm (yes, it really is called that!), a mesmerising meander with more than a hint of 70’s psychedelia to it. The metronomic music draws you in almost to a trance like state. The distinctive tone of Tony Harn‘s guitar is a constant echo in your mind before the track changes tack and opens up into something altogether more bright and infused with a sunshine like glow. The feel-good factor of the music is delightfully contagious as these three highly impressive musicians go about their business with n’er a hair out of place. Title track Accidental Bar-B-Que begins about as laid back as you could possibly get. Seriously chilled jazz that lulls you into a bit of a false sense of security, one minute you are relaxed and then the next it segues off into some experimental, free-form jazz jam that knocks your whole psyche off kilter. Like a warped soundtrack to some 70’s secret agent series it has an energy and rawness that actually makes you feel vibrant and alive. Tony’s guitar may be directing proceedings but the bass and drums of the Jones boys are the engine room of this highbrow creative track.

Mushroom Attitude has a 70’s hippy feel to it, some laid back world music that is creamy and effortless. Once again, the feel-good factor is ramped up to maximum, a carefree and untroubled tone runs throughout the opening minutes but, in the background, you can always feel something a bit more serious and vital that anchors the music back in the real world. The interplay between the three musicians is an absolute delight to behold and Tony’s signature guitar sund is becoming more and more recognisable with every note. Howard Jones’ drumming has a vitality and energy that gives it a life of its own and David Jones’ bass playing is superb. Onto Potholing and a song that begins as almost a nod to Hank Marvin with Tony’s intricate guitar picking reminding me of The Shadow’s guitarist. It’s a real fast paced and upbeat track in parts that gets your toes tapping and your head nodding. A touch of folk/country and even Canterbury scene to add to the progressive jazz tendencies perhaps with its hints of Camel and Caravan. The guys really excel themselves on this track and their musical interplay is almost fluid in its skill. It may be eleven minutes long but you get so engrossed that the time just flies by.

Split The Sketch has an apparent serious tone to it, a wealth of musical nous and years of nostalgia seem to seep out of every note and inflection. The guitar playing is more intricate and the bass and drums have an experienced and cultured edge to them. It reminds me a bit of when Neal Schon decided to go all serious and drop his guitar god guise on his instrumental release ‘Beyond The Thunder’ and has touches of that album’s quiet power, cool jazz licks and worldbeat rhythms to give this track a really soulful feel. The final track on this elegant release is the gracefully energetic Blue Blazes, a stirring piece that has an abundance of life and soul to it. Again those Canterbury touches are present and correct but just add to the heartfelt sincerity and emotion of the song. An evocative guitar note and the ardent rhythm section add layers of vivacity and substance to give us an emotive finish to the album.

A really impressive and ultimately satisfying release that really gets into your psyche and has you reaching for the repeat play button again and again. Nerve Toy Trio has given us one of the best instrumental releases of the year with ‘Accidental Bar-B-Que’ and one with which the music really does stand comparison to the excellent album art. Seems my gut feeling was right once again, a highly recommended release.

Released 9th September 2016

Buy ‘Accidental Bar-B-Que from Burning Shed

 

Be Prog! My Friend festival announce Friday headliners Marillion

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FESTIVAL WHICH HIGHLIGHTS THE WORLD’S BEST PROGRESSIVE BANDS ANNOUNCE FRIDAY HEADLINERS MARILLION 

Since its inception in 2014 the Barcelona based festival Be Prog! My Friend has played host to the likes of Steven Wilson, Opeth, Camel, Meshuggah, Anathema, Devin Townsend, Pain Of Salvation, Katatonia, Leprous, TesseracT, The Pineapple Thief, Magma, Between The Buried And Me, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Agent Fresco, Fish, Riverside, Ihsahn, Alcest, Textures, Haken, Iamthemorning, Obsidian Kingdom, The Algorithm & Antimatter.

Taking place in the beautiful open air surroundings of Poble Espanyol – a huge stone built architectural museum – the site is one of the most important and striking landmarks of tourism in Barcelona. Whilst by day the Catalonian hotspot may play host to some of Barcelona’s most interesting historical articles, by the end of June to the start of July it will instead play host to some of the world’s finest progressive bands.

This year saw the festival co-headlined by Steven Wilson and fellow progressive heavy weights Opeth. So far for 2017 Be Prog! My Friend have announced the legendary Jethro Tull as Saturday’s headliner alongside Norweigian music collective Ulver, Anathema, Animals as Leaders and Caligula’s Horse.

Now the festival have revealed Friday’s headiner for the 2017 edition of Be Prog! My Friend will be Marillion. The festival organisers comment:

Marillion’s music is, by its nature, tough to sum-up but perhaps can be described as experimental-yet-emotional rock, married to thought provoking, soulful lyrics – a powerful and moving cocktail which, for those who “get it”, elicits extraordinary devotion.

After over thirty years, the band shows no signs of slowing down; this last month they released “Fear (Fuck Everyone And Run)”; an album that has been called “the best album by Marillion in twenty years”. 

Steve Hogarth said, “We don’t know how many more albums we’ll make, or how long we’ll live. Everything has to be the best it can be”.  With ‘FEAR.’ Marillion show that they are as vital and potent as ever. Peerless and, yes, fearless…

 We welcome Marillion with our arms wide open!’

Tickets are on sale now with final price. 130 Euros:

http://www.ticktackticket.com/entradas/goto.do?claves=.127248&origin=TTT&codIdioma=ING

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30th June – 1nd JULY 2017 – BARCELONA 

Review – Emmett Elvin – Assault On The Tyranny Of Reason – by Shawn Dudley

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Earlier in 2016 I was finally introduced to the enjoyable wonders of Knifeworld via their latest album ‘Bottled Out Of Eden’.  In the ensuing months it has been one of my most played albums and has inspired me to check out the other releases the band members have participated in. One such release is the engagingly obtuse ‘Assault On The Tyranny Of Reason’ from Knifeworld keyboardist Emmett Elvin. Happily just as unique and vibrant, it’s another album that I can’t seem to get enough of.

Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat.  I’m not going to attempt to assign this album into a particular genre or style, with an album this diverse it would be a ludicrous attempt at categorization.  In 1968 The Amboy Dukes scored a hit single with a song called Journey To The Center Of The Mind, that title works better as a descriptor for ‘Assault On The Tyranny Of Reason’ than any preconceived genre tag would.  It’s a singular, personal work of an artist freely expressing himself; the rest of the journey is up to the listener.

The album is beautifully balanced; it consists of satisfyingly diverse instrumentals with a few vocal tracks mixed in throughout. While the various pieces aren’t necessarily connected to one another and cover a wide swath of stylistic ground it nevertheless sounds like a cohesive album experience.

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The playfully comic Boiling begins our journey and the impeccable quality of the arrangement and the production is immediately evident.  The strummed acoustic guitar introduction (reminiscent of Time Flies by Porcupine Tree), the lap-steel (or possibly pedal steel) slide guitar motif that segues into a Zappa-esque mix of carnival piano and a vocal line that brings to mind the more tongue-in-cheek aspects of King Crimson ala Happy Family. Then the soundscape expands to include a sweeping string section and wordless vocal choir that conjures visions of mid-period Led Zeppelin, the full effect heard beautifully in the instrumental coda.  While the influences are immediately evident, the resulting arrangement is wholly unique.

The use of orchestration (primarily strings and horns) is one of the most appealing elements of the album as a whole, whether used to add dramatic effect to a beautiful piano-driven instrumental piece like Dysnomia or fully integrated into a progressive rock workout like the thrilling, multi-layered Heartburster.  So many bands use orchestration as aural wallpaper, just slathering it onto everything to help disguise the fact that not much is going on underneath, to hear it used so successfully, so musically, is joyous to behold.

It’s really an album best experienced as a whole entity, to be enjoyed in a one sitting without interruption. While there isn’t a weak track on the album and each piece can exist completely on its own, it really becomes greater than the sum of its parts when viewed as an extended work. There is such a variety of mood and instrumental texture; it remains completely gripping throughout the 50-minute running time.

Some of my favorite individual pieces are the darker, more menacing cuts like the eerie The Democracy They Deserve and the wonderfully heavy, almost doom-like dirge of The Plankton Suite. The second half of which hints at what a collaboration between King Crimson and Opeth might sound like. I’m also especially fond of the more textural, avant-garde pieces like The Curate’s Eggnog, the bonus track Sphere Of The Deceiver and the joyful insanity of the title track. Of the vocal tracks my favorite is the gonzo Dozy Phantoms which reminds me a little of Josh Homme’s work with Queens Of The Stone Age.

Overall each listener is going to experience something quite unique when listening to ‘Assault On The Tyranny Of Reason’; the associations I bring to it likely won’t mirror the ones you experience.  That to me is one of the integral ingredients of great art, it’s not truly complete until the individual brings their own personality and experience to it.  Emmett Elvin has crafted a beautifully complex yet still highly accessible work and he respects the intelligence of his audience enough to let us complete that journey toward it. I highly recommend the destination, however you get there.

Released 23rd September 2016

Buy ‘Assault On The Tyranny Of Reason’ from Bad Elephant Music at bandcamp.

 

Review – Epica – The Holographic Principle – By Kevin Thompson

 

Epica Album

There are some excellent bands producing Symphonic Metal. Very popular and with some exceptional exponents, among them Nightwish, Within Temptation and Stream of Passion to name a few. So it is very easy for a few to slip under the radar, for me one of those has been EPICA, (which they define as Excellence. Power. Intelligence. Creativity. Ambition. on their publicity blurb). Hailing from the Netherlands and formed in 2002, “The Holographic Principle” is their seventh studio album, which they say is their heaviest to date.

As is often the case, prerequisite for the majority of these bands is a powerful/operatically voiced frontswoman and EPICA tick the box well and truly with the beautiful, flame haired Simone Simons. Guitarist Mark Jansen’s sonorous growls contrast like Beauty and the Beast, sometimes for me a little intrusive as I’m not a big fan of this sort of vocalisation. This is loud, heavy and bombastic music, with Gregorian and choral style chanting and the screaming guitar solos from Isaac Delahaye cutting a swathe through the cinematically orchestral embellishments of Coen Janssen’s keyboards. The thundering rolls of Ariën van Weesenbeek’s drums combining with Rob Van Der Loos’ bass foundations on which the arrangements are built.

The album opens with the miniature epic Eidola which is far too short for me, but a great introduction. It could have soundtracked the film ‘300’, conjuring scenes of a huge procession. Armoured elephants in gleaming gold cresting the horizon as thousands of battle hardened, marching infantry hammer the road before them, their feet smashing into the dust. Heat and sweat mingle as they haul huge war machines of mass destruction toward the enemy.

I would have liked for it to merge into Edge of the Blade, as I find the suddeness of the starting riff jars slightly with the preceding track. A small niggle soon forgotten as you are then carried along at a crashing pace with only the soothing vocals from Simone to give respite, before they reach for the stratosphere. There is a middling slow of pace before the growling hits with the guitars and you are hurtled into the maelstrom of battle again.

Plucked strings are crushed by the guitars as they issue in A Phantasmic Parade, and the war machines unleash a hail of deadly notes and choral choruses to assault your senses.

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A brief lull, then charging through the settling dust and smoke come the Universal Death Squad, screaming their war chants and brandishing weapons, lusting for blood and souls. Red rimmed eyes seeking foes and victims as they reap bodies like sheaves of bloodstained stalks of grain. Simone’s vocals and Isaac’s keyboards lifting the track beyond the onslaught.

A few retreating survivors fire back in the distance as orchestral swathes mix with piano before they are scattered to Divide and Conquer, Mark’s barked ululations at his marauding horde, directing their onslaught to demoralise the enemy, with the engaging Simone encouraging a memorable chorus at his side.

Exalting vocals precede celebratory instruments, orchestrated as they march Beyond the Matrix, Simone conducting the guitar verses, Mark gutterally picking off survivors on the wasted battlefield and guitars herald their affirmation to a rousing choral end.

Haunting Celtic violins bring an ease to the aggression as we wander Once Upon A Nightmare, accompanied by Simone’s voice and Coen’s piano, the orchestra and choir falling into line with the guitars and drums treading respectfully across the musical battlefield intensifying to a rousing dramatic end.

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Melodramatic choir, heavy riffs and driven drums crash in, with Simone adding gloss to Mark’s hard edged vocals. The layered orchestration and keyboards propelling us forward across the universe in search of answers to The Cosmic Algorithm, as the tune hurtles to it’s inevitable end.

Mr Jansen’s portents add gothic doom to the Ascension – Dream State Armaggedon, a brief verbal passage warning this is the end of everything as we know it, echoing the bands’ attempts to elevate themselves out of their comfort zone and progress their sound, morphing and fading out as drums and exotic strings bring a Middle Eastern touch to Dancing in a Hurricane. The addition of  Asian instruments like whirling dervishes dance between the band, swirling dust and sand in the heat of the music.

Lush strings and atmospheric piano soothe before you are bludgeoned by the propulsive metal of battle as the band Tear Down Your Walls, Simone and the choir flying above the destruction like avenging angels crushing all and everything in their path with their symphonic cannons.

And so we come to the grand finale, The Holographic Principle – A Profound Understanding of Reality, (even the title’s epic) and for me the band’s most adventurous track on the album. They have literally thrown everything at their disposal into this, creating a huge production. From the monastic chanted introduction, this veers from soft piano to orchestral swathes. The drama of the vocals against soaring guitar solos and pounding staccato rhythms ascending into the heavens to a headrushing climax.

I now have a confession, I had to take a break for a few days before finishing this review as the intensity of the album after five plays became a little overwhelming. There is no doubting this is an excellent example of the genre, but I would have liked to hear maybe a couple of slower tracks, even ballads to give this more balance and the faster, heavier tracks more impact. The ones that do start gently are quickly swallowed up by the band’s apparent enthusiastic attempts at progression and a slight release may have allowed the music to breathe a little.

That said it’s a cracking album and I am surprised I have not picked up on Epica before and I shall certainly be listening to the back catalogue and watching for future releases. If you like this genre and you have also passed them by I suggest you give them a listen.

All pictures by Tim Tronckoe Photography..

Released 30th September 2016 via Nuclear Blast Records.

Buy ‘The Holographic Principle’ from Nuclear Blast Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Hackett Announces 2017 Tour including tracks from Wind and Wuthering, new album & Genesis revisited

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Former Genesis guitarist and prog legend Steve Hackett is returning with an exciting new show for a 15 date UK tour next spring after his outstanding performance at this year’s inaugural Stone Free Festival.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the classic Genesis album Wind and Wuthering, Steve and his band will be performing several tracks from the album as well as fan favourites such as ‘The Musical Box’ and other Genesis numbers never performed before by Steve’s band such as ‘Inside & Out’ and ‘Anyway’.

“I’m excited to bring my latest show involving a new set of Genesis and Hackett numbers to the UK in 2017!” – Steve Hackett

 With an established solo career spanning over 40 years, Steve will also be performing some of his popular hits such as ‘The Steppes’, ‘Serpentine’, ‘Every Day’ and the first ever live performance of ‘Rise Again’ from his 1999 album Darktown. Steve will also be introducing fans to new music from his forthcoming album, which is due out early spring 2017.

Joining Steve on the tour are musicians Roger King (keyboards), Gary O’Toole (drums/percussion), Rob Townsend (saxes/flutes), Nick Beggs (bass, stick & twelve string) and Nad Sylvan on vocals.

Since the 1970’s Steve has had a remarkable musical career, releasing more than 30 solo albums, seven Genesis albums and working alongside Steve Howe of YES with supergroup GTR. Renowned for being one of the most innovative rock musicians of our time, in 2010 he was inducted into the Rock Hall Of Fame.

Continuing to impress with his outstanding live shows ‘Genesis Revisited with Classic Hackett’ is a tour not to missed in 2017.

Tickets for UK shows go on sale on Friday 7th October at 10am from myticket.co.uk and venue box offices.    Dublin tickets go onsale on the same day at 9am.

2017 TOUR DATES

 April

 Wed 26th        Dublin, Vicar Street

Fri 28th            Cardiff, St. David’s Hall

Sun 30th         Reading, Hexagon

May

 Mon 1st           Birmingham, Symphony Hall

Wed 3rd          Sheffield, City Hall

Thurs 4th        Bristol, Colston Hall

Fri 5th              Manchester, Bridgewater Hall

Sun 7th           Liverpool, Philharmonic

Mon 8th           Portsmouth, Guildhall

Wed 10th        Southend, Cliffs Pavilion

Thurs 11th      Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall

Sat 13th          Oxford, New Theatre

Sun 14th         Cambridge, Corn Exchange

Tues16th        Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall

Wed17th         Sage, Gateshead

Fri 19th            London, Palladium

www.hackettsongs.com

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CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX SHARE LATEST TRACK ‘WINNING A LOSING BATTLE’

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CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX have revealed the 2nd track from their forthcoming album ‘Bronze’. The UK dark progressive rockers will release their stunning new full-length on November 4th.

Justin Greaves comments: “Some songs depart from my mind into reality without consent. ‘Winning A Losing Battle’ is one of those. The track just barged itself into the world. It is also one of the musically unconventional Crippled Black Phoenix style of songs that keep appearing on our albums. The title says it all. We have been through a lot of adversity as a band in these past two years and even though it seemed that all is doomed at times – I/we never gave up or gave in. We just say ‘screw you’ to the people and forces that tried to bring us down. Crippled Black Phoenix win, and always will.”
 
The artwork of ‘Bronze’ can be viewed together with the now released track-list below.
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01. Dead Imperial Bastard
02. Deviant Burials
03. No Fun
04. Rotten Memories
05. Champions Of Disturbance (Pt 1 & 2)
06. Goodbye Then
07. Turn To Stone
08. Scared And Alone
09. Winning A Losing Battle
10. We Are The Darkeners
 
Bronze consists primarily of copper, but it is the inclusion of other metals and non-metals that gives this alloy its specific characteristics. Ever since mankind discovered the secret of its making thousands of years ago, the golden and shining bronze has changed the course of history, spawned destruction and war, yet also been crafted into desired objects of extreme beauty.
 
You will find each of these traits inherent in the sixth studio album of CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX, which is aptly taking its title from this fateful alloy. Instead of copper, dark rock forms the base ingredient in this musical amalgamation process, but it is the addition of metal, progressive influences, gothic, wave, even pop, and many other elements as well as a changing cast of musicians that result in each song shining with its own individual hue and tone. Yet a deep sense of anguish, despair, longing, loss, melancholy, and nostalgia forms a binding force that holds ‘Bronze’ together and formulates an encompassing theme.
 
This musical darkness is reflected in the lyrical themes dominating the record, which partly revolve around battling inner demons and resisting oppression. The constant struggle comes as no surprise when taking into account that poetic mastermind Justin Greaves has recently gone public about his personal fight against severe depression. For him, not letting the “black dog” devour you is a big message mixed within his songs.
 
CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX have always confounded critics trying to pin their style down ever since multi-instrumentalist Justin Greaves recorded his first ideas in 2004 – which earned them tagging attempts ranging from “stoner prog” to “freak folk” to “psychedelic doom”. Despite the wide range of musical leanings within their albums, there are a unifying dark streak and sombre melancholy running through the songs. Founder Justin Greaves had already made himself a name as drummer for IRON MONKEY and ELECTRIC WIZARD among others. When the multi-instrumentalist finally decided to stand on his own musical feet, CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX was born as a project. This involves a changing cast of musicians and live set-ups, which mirror the ever ongoing evolution of the band and the fact that the songs were mostly not composed with their live performance on mind. 
 
Between 2007 and 2014, CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX released a string of five critically highly acclaimed studio albums – from ‘A Love of Shared Disasters’ (2007), via ‘The Resurrectionists’ (2009), ‘Night Raider’ (2009), ‘(Mankind) The Crafty Ape’ (2012), until ‘White Light Generator’ (2014). This was complemented by EPs ‘I, Vigilante’ (2010), ‘No Sadness or Farewell’ (2012), and ‘Oh’ Ech-oes’ (2015), the live recording ‘Live Poznan’ (2013), and the ‘200 Tons of Bad Luck’ compilation (2009). Their ‘New Dark Age Tour EP 2015 A.D.’ was the band’s first release on Season of Mist that came with an extensive homage to PINK FLOYD. The strong influence of the UK rock giants can still be felt on ‘Bronze’, yet while CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX never denied their roots, this outstanding act has long created their own sonic cosmos and now takes it a dimension further. Be warned that ‘Bronze’ will infect you with a most deep fascination. Shine on…
 
‘Bronze’ was recorded at Chapel Studio and mixed with Karl Daniel Lidén.
 
CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX TOUR DATES
+PUBLICIST UK +THE DEVIL’S TRADE   
 
08 Dec 16 Manchester (UK) Sound Control         
09 Dec 16 London (UK) Dome
10 Dec 16 Nijmegen (NL) Doornroosje
11 Dec 16 Wiesbaden (DE) Schlachthof
12 Dec 16 Nürnberg (DE) Z-Bau
13 Dec 16 Zürich (CH) Werk 21
14 Dec 16 München (DE) Feierwerk, Kranhalle
15 Dec 16 Budapest (HU) Dürer Kert
16 Dec 16 Wien (AT) Arena
17 Dec 16 Tübingen (DE) Sudhaus
18 Dec 16 Dresden (DE) Scheune
19 Dec 16 Warszawa (PL) Progresja
20 Dec 16 Berlin (DE) Lido
21 Dec 16 Köln (DE) Underground
 
 
 
Available formats
Digipak CD
Deluxe Digipak CD with slipcase and bonus tracks
Gatefold double vinyl in various colours

Riverside – Eye Of The Soundscape – releases 21st October 2016

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Following RIVERSIDE’s sixth and highly successful studio album release, “Love, Fear and the Time Machine” and its recently launched 5.1 edition, the Warsaw, Poland-based Progressive Rock innovators return with a very special complimentary instrumental release dubbed “Eye Of The Soundscape”.

“Eye Of The Soundscape” features 13 experimental and highly atmospheric compositions, previously used as bonus material for the “Shrine Of New Generation Slaves” (2103) and “Love, Fear and the Time Machine” (2015) albums, alongside rare cuts (e.g. a new mix of “Rapid Eye Movement” and the single “Rainbow Trip”, so far only released in Poland) as well as 4 new songs (“Where The River Flows”, “Shine”, “Sleepwalkers” and “Eye Of The Soundscape”) into a massive +100 minutes 2CD/3LP package, which showcases RIVERSIDE’s ambient electronic side.

RIVERSIDE’s Mariusz Duda explained and introduced this rather unorthodox and experimental release as follows:

“I had a feeling that the sixth RIVERSIDE album might be the last chapter of a story. That the future releases might have a different sound, a different character… Unofficially, I called our latest three albums “the crowd trilogy”. Each subsequent title was longer by one word – four, five, six. Six words were long enough as a title and I thought that was the one to finish it off with…

Before we started a new chapter, perhaps a “new trilogy”, I had an idea to release a complementary album. An album in between. An album we had always wanted to record. It wouldn’t be just new music but in our case and in such configuration it would definitely be a new quality because we hadn’t released such an album before.

For years, we have accumulated a lot of material, a part of which was released on bonus discs. I know that some of our listeners still haven’t heard those pieces and do not realise that Riverside, basically right from the start, have been experimenting with ambient and progressive electronic music. And that’s always been a part of our music DNA.

So I presented the idea to the rest of the band and the decision was unanimous. We decided to make a compilation of all our instrumental and ambient pieces, and release it this year as an independent album. Some of the songs would be re-mixed to make them sound better, but most of all, we’d add new compositions.

At the beginning of the year, we locked ourselves in the studio and we started to compose. We even published a picture on our facebook page, in which Grudzien is holding a small keyboard as a joke. That was that recording session. We were working with smiles on our faces, genuinely excited, knowing that this time it wasn’t just a bonus disc or an addition to something “bigger” but a fully fledged, independent release with that kind of music, full of space, trance, melodies and electronics. The day before I got a text message from Grudzien, “I really can’t wait for this release, I have always had a dream for RIVERSIDE to release such an album.”

The release of “Eye Of The Soundscape” therefor also honours late RIVERSIDE guitarist Piotr Grudzinski, who tragically passed away of natural causes on February 21st, 2016.

“Eye Of The Soundscape” is composed of material created between 2007-2016 and concieved in 2015/2016 at Serakos studio in Warsaw with Magda Srzednicka, Robert Srzednicki as well Mariusz Duda as producers, and the release comes packaged in artwork by RIVERSIDE’s longterm design partner Travis Smith (Opeth, Katatonia, Nevermore, etc.).

© 2016 by Inside Out Music – All Rights Reserved